There was somebody new at the Institute.
He was short and dark with black hair neatly trimmed and styled. A pair of browline glasses perched in front of wide brown eyes that seemed to absorb everything around him.
“Hey, uh, Tim,” Martin whispered as he leaned over to where his coworker was digging through a drawer, “Who’s that?”
“Hm?” Tim’s eyes widened as he looked up, “Oh shit, he’s cute.”
“Not helpful, Tim.”
“Um, I think he might be Daniel’s replacement. I think his name is Joe or something,” Tim swallowed, “I wonder what modeling agency Bouchard raided for him.”
Martin elbowed him in the ribs hard, his face going as red as his hair, “Shut up!”
“But look at him, Martin! He has to have a skincare routine an hour long and don’t tell me you didn’t notice that those trousers are bloody tailored. I see you looking at his arse!”
”What are you two fighting about now?”
Both researchers jumped away from each other as Sasha popped up behind them.
“Hot new guy,” Tim said, earning another jab and a hiss.
Sasha looked at Martin and grinned, “Short, scrawny, Persian, and angry?”
“He’s Persian?” Martin stuttered before slapping a hand over his mouth.
“Yeah, I got to talk to him during his follow up interview. Smart guy but kind of grumpy and super awkward. We got talking about foriegn food and he offered to give me his grandma’s recipe for chelow kababs,” Sasha said.
“What’s his name.” Tim asked, looking back at where the new guy was glaring at a row of filing cabinets with several drawers ajar.
Pre Episode 44
Basira watched as Sims limped away with the tape clutched to his chest like a lifeline before sighing and heading out to the car where Daisy was waiting.
“Well?” Daisy asked, “How’s our favorite murderer?”
Basira swatted her feet off the dash, “He looks like he hasn’t slept in 3 weeks and recently got hit by a car.”
“I wasn’t asking about his nasty, worm-eaten face, Basira,” Daisy said, “Does he know we’re watching him?”
“I don’t think so - put your seatbelt on - it seems like he’s more invested in what’s on those tapes for now. I get the feeling he’s more worried about watching the people he works with than us.”
“What a sad little librarian. I’m looking forward to how he managed to kill Robinsen without getting his ass whipped.”
“She was old.”
“Yeah, but Sims looks like he’d get knocked out by a light breeze even before he got munched on by some nasty fucking bugs. Did you see the surveillance from Robinsen’s initial investigation? I went back through to track Sims and watched him struggle move a box that was in front of a filing cabinet for a solid twenty minutes; the big ginger guy had to move it for him.”
“That’s-” Basira snorted, “That’s pathetic.”
Daisy grinned, “He has to be one manipulative bastard to get anything done.”
“Is that your theory?”
“I mean look at you.”
“What about me?”
“He gives you the puppy eyes once and now you’re smuggling him tapes from the evidence locker? I have never known the great Basira Hussain to ever cave to a suspect’s wishes in my life- and don’t say it’s to keep a closer eye on him. We have less illegal tactics for that.”
Basira opened her mouth to argue but found that Daisy had a point. She really only gave into suspects if the circumstances were dire. This was technically classed as a low priority case.
What was going on here?
Post Episode 76
Melanie flopped dramatically onto Georgie's couch and let out a long winded sigh.
"Oh?" Georgie asked from the kitchen door.
Melanie sat up slightly to let her sit down before plopping her head down on Georgie's thigh, "I had to go talk to Sims at the Institute again."
"A fucking bastard is what he is."
"Well I knew that," Georgie laughed, gently beginning to brush through Melanie's hair with her fingers.
"I don't know, he's was wierdly defensive and I think he was trying to gaslight me about one of his new assistants."
Georgie paused her brushing, "I haven't seen Jon in a while but that seems… out of character for him. He's a grump, sure, but I've never known him to be a bully -on purpose that is."
The pair lapsed into a tense silence.
"Would it make you feel better if I show you a picture of Jon in university that he is very embarrassed about," Georgie ventured after a few minutes, "He's still mad I have it.~"
Melanie twisted her head back and grinned, instantly breaking the tension and sitting up to look at the phone screen presented to her.
On it was a picture of Jon passed out, mouth wide open and drooling, on the ugliest couch she'd ever seen.
"He still owns that couch by the way," Georgie said. Melanie waved a hand in her face to silence her as she took in the details.
Jon was in a pink crop top that Melanie was sure she'd seen in Georgie's closet, union jack boxers, gladiator sandals, and The Admiral was planted square on his chest, though he was about half the size of the fluffball that roamed the flat now. Surrounding them where piles of papers and books on the paranormal.
Melanie began to cackle.
"Our friend group used to call him '2 Drink Jon' and this was after he'd done four shots in the kitchen and decided to lecture us on how ghosts are bullshit and he could beat one in a fist fight," Georgie elaborated, "I'm still not sure when he ended up in that outfit but honestly, if we had recorded his rant he probably could have used it for his Masters thesis."
Melanie wheezed into her shoulder as tears began to stream down her face.
"2 Drink Jon was actually a lot more charismatic than sober Jon. This one time he almost had us convinced that he could talk to plants after two gin and tonics, granted we were also drunk but-,"
"Stop, please," Melanie wheezed, "I'm dying."
"Gosh, one of these days I'll have to tell you about tequila and the alien conspiracy. Randall could almost recite the whole speech from memory."
Melanie fell off the couch.
Post Episode 109
Julia and Trevor exchanged a look as the Archivist powered through the spiciest Thai food they could find without even breaking a sweat.
It was supposed to be a joke, spiking Jon's food, the cashier had even given them a panicked look at the restaurant and Trevor's eyes had been watering the whole way back to the safe house. They'd even waited by the door in case Jon tried to make a break for the case of water bottles in the car but he just unwrapped the plastic fork and dug in without even asking for a drink.
Julia picked at her own food but couldn't quite manage to eat it and glanced back at Jon, "Are you sure you don't need a water or anything?"
Jon looked up for a moment, his eyes were more alive than they had been all day and practically sparkled in the shitty fluorescent light. He shook his head and instead reached for another packet of chili sauce to add to his food.
"What the hell is he," Trevor whispered to Julia in horror.
"I don't know but he's definitely not normal."
During Episode 132
Daisy had misjudged Jon. She'd grossly misjudged him.
She flexed her fingers around his, ignoring the way the sand dug into her skin, and gently pulled him closer. The man she'd called prey gave her a soft smile and compiled, pressing against her side like she'd never held a knife to his throat, like she hadn't just admitted to planning his murder before she was trapped here.
Daisy turned her head awkwardly and dug her face into his shoulder savoring the human contact, her tears soaking into his shirt.
The Hunt in her blood tried to sing, tried to fight the Buried, "Safe, Mine, Pack, Protect" , it echoed faintly.
Jon said something and began to move, pulling Daisy forward along with him.
"Safe, Mine, Pack, Protect"
Hours past as they shimmied through the coffin, the pain of being scraped and crushed was overpowered by the sheer ecstasy of moving more than an inch every few days.
"Safe, Mine, Pack, Protect"
There was a door, Jon tucked himself under her arm and pulled her up the stairs to the blinding lights of the institute. She ducked her head down to his shoulder again and grimaced as her joints popped and groaned.
"Jon, you stupid idiot! What did you think-"
Daisy looked up to the person she thought she’d never see again and smiled.
Post Episode 132
Martin had horrible timing really. He just needed to pee, was that really too much to ask?
Of course it was. The universe hated him.
So instead of slipping into the private bathroom upstairs which was magically broken, he had to go down a level and walk in on Jon shaking dirt out of his clothes.
Martin was going to die here but at least he'd die happy.
Jon didn't even seem to register that someone else had joined him (thank the Lonely) so Martin took a second to sneak a guilty look before darting back out and hiding for 40 years.
Jon was painfully thin. Martin got the idea that he could count every vertebrae and rib if he was allowed and even at a glance he could spot the sunken area where at least one rib was now missing.
Worm scars and burns were peppered up his back along with a few moles and freckles. Little red marks circled his chest in a way that Martin immediately recognized as being from the black fabric crumpled at Jon's feet.
And to top it all off, much to Martin's delight, were a set of three black gears tattooed down Jon's right shoulder blade. Sasha had mentioned once that she had gone out for drinks with Jon when he first started and they'd managed to get on the topic of tattoos. Tim had spent months trying to get Jon to show it to him before 'giving up'.
Martin stepped out and stood in the hall for a moment, red faced and giddy, before stumbling off in search of another bathroom.
Somewhere between Episode 132-154
"Hey, guys?" Melanie called.
Daisy and Basira glanced up to see Melanie holding a giant plate of the best smelling food they'd seen in weeks. Steam wafted up into her very confused face.
"Did either of you make this? I went to ask Martin and I can't find him."
"I didn't make it," Basira said, "Daisy?"
"I once made spaghetti and lit it on fire.
Basira grimaced and walked up to Melanie, "Kebabs, Tahdig rice, flat bread, and jam cookies. Those are Iranian dishes, or Middle Eastern at least.”
Daisy looked at Basira, "How do you know that?"
"Took a foreign cuisine course focused on middle eastern food a few years ago," Basira said as she made her way to the kitchen area with the group in tow.
Sitting on the table were three more huge plates of food and two empty plates sitting in the sink. Martin was standing next to the table with pure confusion on his face.
"Did you make this?"
Martin jumped and looked at the group, "Uh, no? I really only do pastas… this is a little outside my skill set. I think-"
"It could be a trap," Daisy interrupted, "Maybe it's laced with something?"
"No, I'm pretty sure-"
"Could be, but who would go to this effort, the Web?" Basira said.
"Guys, it was probably-"
"It was the Archivist!" Helen exclaimed from behind them, somehow having opened her door without making a sound and scaring the shit out of them, "He is an excellent cook."
"Bullshit," Melanie wheezed, setting her plate down before she dropped it.
"No, she right," Martin sighed, "Jon actually cooked something similar a few years ago for a company thing. He gave this whole speech about how grandparents immigrated here from Iran, well Persia at the time, and his grandma made him learn to cook what she called 'real food'."
"You mean to tell me that Jonathan Sims, the skinniest guy I have ever met, can cook like this," Basira said in disbelief before cautiously sitting down at the table with the rest following suit.
"He called it his grandmother's curse," Helen provided cheerfully, "He said that no matter what he does, he always makes far more than he needs and never has people around to give it to. So he just never cooks."
"You talked to him?" Melanie asked. Daisy began to pick at a plate and made a sound of confusion and delight at the taste.
"Oh yes, he even let me help by getting things off high shelves!"
"This is amazing," Daisy said in disbelief before grabbing a fork and beginning to eat in earnest.
"It is! Jon and I had a lovely chat and I'm not much for 'real' food these days but he really convinced me!" Helen declared, spinning back around to re enter her door, "And I must say it was delightful."
"Huh," Basira shrugged and began to eat.
Post Episode 159
For the second time since he woke up, Martin pinched himself. He had to be dreaming, the smaller body smooshed up against his chest and the boney limbs clinging to him had to be a figment of his imagination.
Jon huffed in his sleep and burrowed deeper into Martin before settling again. A few stray rays of the morning sun slipped through the blinds highlighting Jon’s gray hairs and the raised edges of scars that trailed along his skin.
Gently, Martin carded his hand through the wild mess of hair, marveling at how soft it was despite everything. Jon sighed, leaning into the touch without stirring.
He could stay like this forever, with Jon safe in his arms and the dangers of the world outside, away from his happiness.
"Wha' time?" Jon mumbled, stretching before re-draping himself over Martin. He looked up and the light caught his eyes in a way that Martin could see all the blue heterochromatic spots in Jon's left eye through dark, heavy lashes.
"Doesn't matter," Martin whispered as he pulled him closer, "We have all the time in the world."